Chicano conference stresses importance of culture

By Yvonne Condes

Arizona Daily Wildcat

College and high school students from around the state gathered in the Student Union Building last weekend to learn from professors and faculty the importance of maintaining their culture and breaking stereotypes.

UA President Manuel T. Pacheco, introduced as the highest ranking Chicano at a major university, addressed about 90 students in the Senior Ballroom Saturday morning, telling them they need to be aware of affirmative action procedures regardless of whether they are continued.

He said those attending the university right now should "know you are not here because of affirmative action. You are here because you qualified for admissions," Pacheco said.

Pacheco also urged students to maintain the Spanish language. "Language is the carrier of culture. It's a beautiful thing to have," he said.

M.E.Ch.A (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlİn) organized the conference with the theme "Mano A Mano: Forming a Conscious Movement." Speakers included Pacheco; Jesse Hargrove, assistant dean of African American Studies; Armando Valenzuela, UA director of the Adalberto H. Guerrero Chicano/Hispano Student Resource Center; and Richard R. Obreg¢n, coordinator of Mexican Studies in Music.

Obreg¢n agreed to participate in the AACHE (Arizona Association of Chicanos for Higher Education) Chicano Student Leadership Conference because it is important for Hispanic youth to know the history of the music of their culture, he said.

"It's our culture's music that our people listen to every day," Obreg¢n said.

Obreg¢n held a workshop called Nuestra M£sica, which gave a brief history of Mariachi, Tex-Mex and Tejano music.

Hargrove, Valenzuela, Eula Liane Hernandez, master of arts graduate student, and Val Hill, a University of California-San Diego graduate student, held a panel discussion called "Racism Today."

Students need to speak out about racism in language and in attitude to stop stereotypes, Hargrove said to about 30 students.

"We must check the madness and end this cycle of discrimination," he said.

Valenzuela said that one way discrimination is perpetuated is by the media's stereotyping of minorities. The way to stop this is with education about issues that pertain to Hispanics and by taking action, he said.

"No way can we sit preaching to the choir and expect something to be done," Valenzuela said.

Voting is a way to have the voices of Hispanics heard, but "traditionally, voter turnout is low with Hispanics," said Tomİs Martinez, M.E.Ch.A president, in a private interview.

There was a voter registration drive for participants throughout the three-day-long conference.

Nilsa Gallegos, Phoenix College M.E.Ch.A member, attended the conference to learn more about the history of Hispanic culture.

"We each need to learn about culture to learn about who we are," she said.

Mike Valdez, M.E.Ch.A member from Phoenix College, said he is a Chicano, not a Hispanic.

"Hispanic is a European word that denies our indigenous roots. It takes one part of history away from us," Valdez said.

Gender issues for Chicanas are not just women's issues, said Andrea Quijada, UA graduate and former M.E.Ch.A. president in a panel attended by about 35 people.

The way that Chicano history is approached is a problem, said Guadalupe Castillo, Pima Community College history instructor. Women in Chicano history are in the background, she said.

"Models for Chicana women is long and expansive," Castillo said.

Layla Turner, Casa Grande Union High School sophomore, said that she "learned a lot about our culture, our Indian ancestors and more about women, Chicana heroes."

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